Authored by: Debbie Psihountas, Ph.D., MBA Director and Professor of Finance
This blog article was published on ACBSP Impact, the official blog for the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, where you can discover the impact ACBSP has on communities around the world.
Webster University’s George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology introduced a new version of their largest degree program, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in fall of 2014. While using the majority of the existing courses, this particular version of the program was geared to adult learners able to work at a particularly rapid pace to complete their 37-hour program within twelve months. To help make that more doable, the curriculum was modified in some instances to allow for creative delivery of courses, including a few targeted specialized Saturday seminar courses, hybrid courses (a combination of online and live learning), and more.
Due to the more manageable size of this particular MBA version, I decided this was a great time to try out some new learning ideas that I’d wanted to explore for some time, but which had been difficult to implement due to Webster’s huge footprint (the MBA is offered on more than 80 campuses in 8 countries, 4 continents, and fully online.) Having a program with only four cohort groups (two in St. Louis, one in Orlando, and one in Geneva, Switzerland) and 67 students allowed for creative experimentation with new learning approaches, while keeping the learning consistent between course sections and cohorts.
One of these learning approaches was the idea to make use of live cases within courses. In early fall, I reached out to a number of corporate partners to see if there was interest in partnering with our classes for purposes of solving a “real life” business problem using student teams in an Operations Management course. As part of meeting with company executives and learning about some of their real-time challenges, we were able to line up some great projects in Operations Management. That particular course was offered in spring two (mid-March through mid-May) of the academic year, and both partner organizations were happy with the student recommendations and projects.
While meeting with corporate executives to find some feasible problems for Operations Management, I came across Enterprise Bank. Enterprise had a great story, and a real-life issue they were grappling with and willing to partner with us on. Unfortunately, it was not an operations management problem, and I didn’t feel it would work within the course being targeted for the live case. But it sounded very relevant to another of the courses the students would be taking during the year (specifically, in summer term of 2015; their last term in the program). This course was introduced into the MBA program in 2012 as a required part of the curriculum. At the time, the Business Department, which is responsible for the MBA curriculum, determined that a course dealing with ethics and sustainability was an important addition to the MBA to keep it current and relevant as a degree program. The course that was designed and introduced, Corporate Responsibility and Society, is a blend of ethics, sustainability, and the strategic implications of corporate responsibility faced by business leaders.
Enterprise, like many organizations, strives to be a strong part of the communities in which they serve. Part of this is required; as lenders, they are obligated to invest in lower-income communities as part of their banking mission, but a large part of it is Enterprise wanting to lead by example and to do the right thing in the communities in which they live and operate. One of the big programs run by Enterprise for the benefit of others is their well-known and regarded Enterprise University. This segment of their business offers a huge range of free programs available to anyone in the community who signs up. They teach everything from basic financial planning for individuals and businesses, retirement planning, how to hire good employees, how to market your business, and many other useful topics relevant to small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals.
Enterprise also donates a significant amount of funding to various causes throughout the year, but their leadership and board wanted to get a better idea of how funds were being spent, in addition to some analytics regarding impact. In particular, they wanted to track the impact their donations and funds were having on the charities and organizations receiving them, a better process overall for determining when to donate, how to donate, how much to donate, and a process that would be fair and consistent to assist in determining how to allocate personnel time for individual employees to be able to serve charities and nonprofits they were interested in helping throughout the year.
The timing of our initial meeting was fortuitous; Enterprise Bank’s senior executives in charge of risk management, human resources, and diversity and inclusion were already in the process of analyzing data to come up with a recommended plan to present to their board in fall of 2015. Webster would be working with them “just in time” as they made ready for their formal recommendations to the board.
After meeting a couple of times with Enterprise, I contacted the instructors slated to teach the two St. Louis-based cohort sections for the course in summer term to determine if they would be interested and able to incorporate a live-case project into their courses while still achieving the needed learning outcomes of the course, and both were immediately interested in hearing more about the case opportunity. From there, a series of meetings with Enterprise SVP’s, the Webster professors, and me ensued, and with the great help and sharing of relevant data by Enterprise, our instructor team did a terrific job designing a course assignment around this case opportunity.
On the second night of the nine-week term, classes met at Enterprise Bank, and the executives working with us shared data with the students and allowed them to ask questions and to gather the information needed to allow them to do a thorough job with their case analyses. From there, the two classes formed their work teams, and off the students went! Student teams worked on their cases while also completing the other reading and course assignments needed to pass the MNGT 5990 course.
In week nine, the final week of classes, each of the cohort groups met at Enterprise Bank, and presented their recommendations on a corporate giving plan to Enterprise. Each class took a slightly different approach to their teams. The Wednesday cohort, taught by professor Andy Gonzalez, divided itself into two teams. Interestingly enough, they divided by gender, so we had the female team presenting first, followed by the males. It was interesting to see the differences in ideas and approaches to charitable giving management that just these two teams were able to design. The Enterprise team was impressed, and asked many follow-up questions to the student presenters, which the students did a great job addressing. After only the first two presentations, it was clear to the Enterprise team that they had a lot of great data and analysis to consider as they made their own plans for their board recommendation, but to make their job even a bit tougher, the Thursday groups were up next. Under the leadership of Dr. Dustin Smith, the Thursday cohort divided itself into 4 sub-groups, and each worked independently to come up with recommendations for Enterprise.
Of course in six presentations there will be some overlap of ideas, recommendations, and overall analysis done, but it was interesting to see some of the different and creative approaches taken by each of the six teams that ended up presenting to Enterprise.
Suffice it to say that Enterprise leadership was thrilled with what the students came up with, and it was particularly a day for celebration for the student cohorts as well, as each class was meeting that evening for their final night of class, after an incredibly action-packed, challenging year of study to complete an MBA (in nearly all cases, while employed full time) in just 12 months.
Based on the success of this project, the Corporate Responsibility instructors and I plan to continue to build on this project. There is a world of need and opportunity out there, and providing these types of real-world projects for our students strengthens them, our corporate partners, and our community.
For further detail or information on this article or on the MBA, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
As Walker School students are finishing up the last two weeks of the Spring 1 term, an important task still remains: filling out course evaluations. Student feedback on a course is an invaluable tool that helps instructors and departments make decisions for program improvements. This ensures that the overall learning experience for our students remains positive and accomplishes the outcomes that we expect.
Completing a course evaluation is easy: just go to evaluation.webster.edu on any internet-enabled device (including your smartphone or tablet) and enter your Connections username and password. From there, you will see a list of courses to be evaluated. It only takes about 10-15 minutes, and you can do this at any time during the evaluation period, which will close at midnight on Sunday, March 12.
Students are encouraged to provide open and honest feedback about their learning experiences. Course Evaluations are conducted online through a third party so that they remain absolutely anonymous; student identities are not tied to evaluations in any way, and results are not released to faculty until after grades have been entered.
Added Incentive for Webster Groves Students
While the rate of student participation has been acceptable, we are always looking for ways to improve it. So, as a pilot test, we are offering students at the Webster Groves campus an added incentive to fill out their course evaluations. After completing the evaluation survey, students will have the option of entering a drawing for one of several prizes.
At the close of the evaluation period, we will choose five winners who will be able to pick one Alof the following prizes:
- Samsung Gear VR Virtual Reality Headset
- Fire HD 8 Tablet, 8” HD Display, 16 GB storage
- Roku Premiere Streaming Media Player
- Fitbit Flex 2
- Amazon Echo Dot with Voice Remote
- Set of 3 Yeti Rambler 20 oz. Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumblers with Lids
Entering the drawing is voluntary, and the information provided for the drawing is not tied to survey responses in any way. Prize winners will be notified via email after March 12, which is the closing date for Spring 1 evaluations.
Ellen Donato, an undergraduate senior majoring in Management with an Emphasis in Marketing and a Finance Minor, was afraid she would not be able to make it to the St. Louis chapter of the American Marketing Association annual conference on February 17 due to a scheduling conflict with her Edward Jones internship. It wasn’t until Dr. Dave Brennan, a professor of Marketing, brought to her attention an award she world be receiving, that she knew the accommodation should be made. Donato was selected as Webster University’s Outstanding Undergraduate Marketing Student at the conference, something Dr. Brennan describes as, “A distinct honor to be selected.”
Donato’s Walker story began with her transfer from Meramec Community College to Webster University. During her Associate Degree studies at Meramec, she was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honors society given her impressive 4.0 GPA. She enjoyed the small classes and knowing her professors personally, so it was natural for her to continue her studies at Webster University. After a recruiting visit, campus tour, and multiple recommendations she knew “every little thing led back to Webster.” She became a Gorlok in August 2015 and has continued a legacy of excellent academic pursuit, resulting in her current 3.97 GPA and admittance into the transfer student Tau Sigma Honors Society.
Donato’s academic focus on finance and marketing has allowed her to become a diversified business woman who can “use both sides of her brain.” She has enjoyed professors from both programs, especially their commitment to be as helpful as possible, even outside of the classroom. Donato’s more than impressive academic career has been achieved with intense effort; she notes having a learning disability, thus having to work that much harder to perform to the best of her abilities. Donato says she sets the achievement bar incredibly high because she is not willing to let anything stop her from reaching her goals.
Donato has aspirations to continue her studies by earning a Master’s, and if the financial budget and degree path coordinate, she would be delighted to do so at the Walker School. She looks forward to applying her degree in the field, as she realized the parallels between the conference speakers and her Webster University classes. “The conference reassured me that my education is on par to career success in the field.” Until then, she will continue working at her prestigious internship as a Client Services Specialist on the Tax Hotline with Edward Jones. The internship has been a wonderful experience, she reports, even though it came to fruition through a spontaneous visit to the fall internship and career fair. “I decided to go to the fair because I wanted to learn how they function and gain experience navigating them. I was happy with my current job and did not have plans to leave it.” However, a well-prepared conversation with recruiters led her down a different path.
A week after the fair, Edward Jones recruiters asked to schedule an interview after reviewing Donato’s resume and recognizing that her personality fit the company culture. Per her father’s advice, Donato attended the interview to learn more about the position and soon realized her compatibility for the job. Donato accepted the internship offer and after two 40 hour weeks of training, she now interacts directly with clients. “I speak to clients so I have to establish a relationship and my knowledge in the subject so they will buy my solutions.” The internship also allows for Donato to work with and learn from other employees and interns in the company, another valuable experience to facilitate a good job fit in her future career, preferably at Edward Jones.
Donato’s advice to students, applicable to those in all majors, is to take time to meet people in person. She noted that a lot of her connections, be it with professors or employers, have not been made over the phone or email, but in person. This leads to skills in better connections with professionals down the line, what inevitably “gets you the job.” Finally, she encourages students to pride themselves on hard work and doing their best, two factors Donato has excelled in to get ahead.
While Donato wishes she could stay in school forever, Dr. Brennan says on behalf of the Walker School, “We congratulate Ellen and wish her all the best with her marketing career.”
Walker School faculty and students attended the 56th Annual Student Marketing Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri on February 17, 2017. The annual conference was sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of the American Marketing Association.
Dr. David J. Brennan, Professor of Marketing, Dr. Eric Rhiney, Assistant Professor of Marketing, and Dr. Donna Cartwright, Adjunct Professor of Marketing and several Webster University seniors (Ellen Donato, Timotius Gunawan, Art Lueking, Meghan Moloney, Leah Kauffman, Amelia Knox, Brendan Mills, Eboni Sampa, Lucas Wittrock) from the Webster University School of Business and Technology marketing program attended the conference, sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of the American Marketing Association.
The conference featured presentations by several regional marketing professionals. These professionals discussed their marketing jobs and careers. They also emphasized the knowledge and skills that graduating marketing students would need to be successful in career positions in the marketing field. In the afternoon the conference provided a visit and tour of several St. Louis advertising agencies.
At the conference, Ellen Donato was named the Webster University Outstanding Undergraduate Marketing Student for 2016/17. Ellen is a student from St. Louis who has spent the last two of her university years at Webster University in St. Louis. She will complete her Bachelor of Arts in Management with an Emphasis in Marketing as well as a Minor in Finance in May 2017. Ellen was selected as Webster’s Outstanding Undergraduate Marketing Student due to her high academic achievements – an overall high GPA and high grades in her Marketing courses. Ellen is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Tau Sigma Honors Societies. In addition to obtaining her degree she is currently working as a Client Service Specialist with Edward Jones in Des Peres.
It is a distinct honor to be selected as Webster University’s Outstanding Undergraduate Marketing Student for 2017. Ellen is an outstanding marketing student with proven academic excellence and interesting work experience. We congratulate Ellen and wish her all the best in her marketing career.
On February. 15, students from the Walker School of Business & Technology met face to face with recruiters seeking interns for the spring and summer at the Walker EDGE Spring Internship Fair, co-hosted by the Walker School of Business & Technology and Career Planning & Development Center.
More than 80 students attended the event, dressed professionally and prepared to engage with recruiters. MBA student Asmaa Ali and Freshman Finance student Van Truong won an Amazon Echo Dot and an Amazon Fire TV Stick as part of a grand prize raffle for attendees who also participated in an internship fair resume book. Walker School Associate Dean Simone Cummings said, “Our students are polished and professional. I’m so proud of everyone here today and I know they’ll be successful in finding great internships.”
Organizations recruiting included: Maritz Motivation Solutions, Sherwin-Williams, Centene Corporation, Cushman Wakefield, Edward Jones, Enterprise Rent A Car, Enterprise Bank & Trust, Graybar, Fabick Cat, Northwestern Mutual Insurance, The State of Missouri, US Bank, Liberty Mutual Insurance, MTM, Inc., Better Weekdays, Scottrade, Inc., Hirelevel, Technical Youth Brooksource, and Unisys.
Recruiters shared positive feedback with organizers regarding the event: “I just wanted to say that the event went wonderfully. We were able to talk to a lot of students and I believe we have found some good candidates!” – Kristy Flaiz, Assistant Accounting Manager at Cushman Wakefield
Students can continue to get up to date information on internships for spring and summer as employers post opportunities in GorlokCareerLink, Webster University’s online career management and recruiting system.
Contributor: Megan Price, BA Management, 2018
This week, the Walker Team interviewed Eman Fahmy and Dina Sallam. They are two excelling graduate MBA students from the Walker School of Business & Technology, months away from graduation. They are also representatives of a group of twelve promising Egyptian women leaders studying at Webster University in St. Louis because of a scholarship from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) program, “Higher Education Initiative(HEI)”
Continue reading »
The World Trade Center St. Louis is accepting internship applications for spring 2017.
— 15 to 20 hours per week (20 hours preferred)
— Assist with training and events
— Courteous phone skills
How to Apply:
— Send a cover letter/resume to: Vin Ko at firstname.lastname@example.org
— Applicants can expect contact either by Vin Ko (or other WTC staff)
— Please note, WTC is a nonprofit organization and internships are unpaid
A special weekend offering of International Business (INTB 5000) has been opened for students who have busy weeknight schedules but are interested in this course topic. Section 2 of INTB 5000 will be offered on Saturdays in February at the home campus in Webster Groves.
“We wanted to provide an option for students who might travel for work during the week, registered late, or otherwise have obligations that make weeknight grad courses difficult,” said Debbie Psihountas, professor and director of the MBA program in Webster University’s George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology.
The course has been offered in this format the past two Februaries to a specific cohort of students, but this year is open to all students to take advantage of this flex schedule option. Students will meet on Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For information on the course, visit the catalog listing here: http://www.webster.edu/catalog/current/graduate-catalog/courses/intb.html
Webster University introduced the Forensic Accounting graduate program five years ago. Today, students like Sean Ayres are graduating from the program, and landing incredible jobs. Sean was offered a job at Grant Thornton, one of the largest and fastest-growing audit, tax and advisory service providers in Chicago.
Sean’s college education began at Webster University when he pursued an undergraduate degree in Accounting. During that time, Sean got involved by participating in on-campus events and the Student Government Association as the Secretary. He also noted learning some valuable communication skills as an undergraduate as a bartender at Llewelyn’s.
In the classroom, Sean enjoyed his time in the auditing course with Professor Rich Dipple. Dipple soon became his mentor, and the combination of advice, natural skill, and interest in the subject led his to pursuit of a MS in Forensic Accounting.
Dipple is very proud of his student and described him as someone who is sharp and has perseverance. Dipple is very proud to see how Sean has moved ahead but not surprised, saying, “[Sean] stuck to it and always had a mature approach.”
Sean valued his time at Webster University. While he did not study abroad, he said the global perspective he gained from getting to know international students and their culture in conjunction with the campus culture enriched his college experience. Sean is appreciative of his liberal arts degree, it helped his ability to critically think and he says, “Webster was a place where people could be themselves.”
Sean will now have the opportunity to travel with his new job. Since he gained an international perspective at Webster University, the anxiety of international travel is shed and he could not be more excited for the new experience.
Finally, Sean’s advice to students is to talk to professors and get to know them; they are valuable resources. He encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities available at the University in order to reach full success, saying that his experiences are proof of that.
Sean now resides in Chicago with his wife and their dog. Sean is working alongside a group of Webster University alum in the beginning process of making an official Webster University Alumni Association Chicago Chapter. He’s is excited about the potential of the network for future and former students.
The Walker School extends a congratulations to Sean. We are proud to call him an alumni and wish him the best in his future.
Dr. Lasanthi Gamage joined the Walker School of Business and Technology this fall in the Computer Science and Mathematics department where she teaches classes in both subjects.
Dr. Gamage grew up in Sri Lanka and decided from a young age that she wanted to pursue computer engineering. College education is free in her home country, therefore Universities are very selective. She successfully passed the exam for admittance at one of the best colleges in Sri Lanka at the age of 18. Thankfully she excelled in her chosen subject because if she had not, she said, “there would have been no way to go back.”
Immediately after graduation, Dr. Gamage spent six months in the industry followed by six months when she returned to academia as a lecturer until she decided to study again herself. This is when she made the move to the United States. Up until this point, she had never traveled outside her Sri Lanka.
Again, success followed Dr. Gamage at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota for her masters, and then at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla for her PhD. Dr. Gamage enjoys her time in the U.S. and after 9 years of residence here, she considers it a home. She compliments the U.S.’s infrastructure and respects the freedom to make personal decisions. However, she says the food in the U.S. just can’t top the food from her home.
Dr. Gamage plans to visit Sri Lanka, so she can see her extended family again, but has been busy starting a family here. Her husband is also a professor who teaches at the Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville and they have two sons and one daughter on the way.
Dr. Gamage says she is dedicated to her family, but also wants to continue research at the Walker School. She plans to expand upon her PhD research in Data Management by focusing on vehicle information that makes life easier by providing intensive traffic information. She also wants to expand her research to include big data in social media with goals to make it safer. Social media gathers a lot of information and she seeks to send some of that information back to users. To make social media even safer, she wants to locate fake accounts so she can prevent them from causing harm. She has ambitions to start researching more as a department and finding ways to include students in that research.
Finally, Dr. Gamage says she greatly appreciates the global focus of Webster University. She looks forward to the opportunity to teach at one of the campuses abroad so she can experience more of the world. The Walker School is happy to have Dr. Gamage as a faculty member and look forward to her contribution to students.